advertisements for the apocalypse

i haven’t watched a lot of movies of late, but if i may be allowed to extend this blog to a discussion of advertisements i’d like to direct your attention in mock-horror to a recent visa check card commercial. this is the one in which everything in a large cafeteria is moving like clockwork when a man shows up with cash and brings it all to a grinding halt. the ad itself seems like it must be a direct riff on the famous modern times sequence in which chaplin inserts himself into the assembly line and brings it to a halt with his body. here, however, the action of the human who breaks the chain, stops the line from moving is greeted with scorn, and mechanization of everyday life is presented as cheerful and hip. mechanization no longer evokes horror; it is presented instead as the bright, sunny prerequisite of paradise.

the damnation of oliver o’grady

a woman filmmaker has made a documentary about a famous pedophialiac priest, using footage she obtained when she went to visit him in ireland and discovered to her surprise that the priest was more than happy to chat away about his deeds and desires. she filmed him for eight days.

i could write this as a comment in the free-for-all that follows the alternet post i link to above, but i don’t have the energy to duke it out with the death penalty invokers and the castration advocates. so excuse me as i take this blog out of the purely filmic and into the political.

witch-hunt/lynching: from the description of the film, the priest sounds totally deranged. he brags about what he did, gets lascivious, indulges in details. now how cool is that? how easy is it to put a deranged man in front of a camera and allow him to crucify himself without the benefit even of a miranda warning? no wonder the man had to flee ireland. judging from the small sample on alternet, there are a lot of people out there who would like a bloody piece of him. Continue reading the damnation of oliver o’grady

Good Movie Season Around the Corner

Rather than continually posting in the old trailers thread, I thought I’d fire up a new one as finally there are some good movies on the horizon. For starters, I’m digging the trailer for the excellently titled The Last King of Scotland, which is of course about Idi Amin, and like everything in the 21st century, based on A True Story.

Clubland: Le Samourai

I’ll say more about my thoughts on the film later, but I thought I’d just get things rolling with a couple of topics/questions.

1. I find Melville’s film to be devastatingly emotional, beneath the laconic dialogue and cool surfaces (or should I say, “because of?”). Do genre films–or let’s say films within genres that work as a kind of apotheosis of the genre–pack more of a punch emotionally because they are playing on a set of expectations? In other words, is the constraint of genre really a kind of freedom?

2. I particularly like the way the film quietly explodes the idea of a stoic masculinity–actions are not expressions of a philosophy where gesture supplants internal life, but messages from a vast unknown territory. Of course, I am a bit taken aback when I read that Melville describes his protagonist Costello as a “psychopath.” Do you agree? If so, the film might be part of the discussion with Straw Dogs and White.
Continue reading Clubland: Le Samourai

British New Wave

The Cinematheque recently ran a 2 week program of films called Angry Young Cinema: The Original British New Wave. The full list of the films can be seen here. I managed to see none of the films, despite working literally across the street from ther excellent Hollywood theater, The Egyptian.

I won’t list all of the film that played – the link above will let you see that – but I hope some here will check out the films that played and recommend a few in comments. They sound interesting, and I plan to rent a batch of them, though several have not been released on DVD. Continue reading British New Wave

United 93

This is one intense film. It is relentless and doesn’t let up until the very. last. moment. I was moved and angered but mostly impressed by the economy of the writing and filmmaking (United 93 makes Munich look like a baroque opera). The “villains” are presented as human (for the most part); you certainly feel their passion and their fear. The passengers lack character per se, but their growing desire to try to do something is palpable, admirable, heroic even (though, by the end, things do go a bit Lord of the Flies . . . puns not intended). The chaos on the ground (in Boston, New York, Newark, Cleveland and some military location) is both outrageous and completely understandable–forgiveable even. There are a couple of ideologically loaded moments (the hijackers in the airport walking past large, glossy, back-lit advertisements for various consumer products. The FAA and the military frustrated by their inability to locate the President to make a necessary leadership decision (the gossip that the Vice President over stepped his bounds by ordering planes shot down is not broached). The audience with whom I sat were visibly emotional and very, very quiet. If one was in any way close to this event, I just don’t know how they could sit through the film.

muscles from brussels

there was a period in the late 80s and early 90s when only one person in our circle of friends in sector 21, noida had a vcr and a flat devoid of parents where we could watch movies, get drunk and behave badly (not always in that order). unfortunately, the vcr and the flat belonged to the biggest and loudest member of the group, who also had appalling taste, and as a result we all became experts in such genres as thai kickboxing movies and also in the careers of such lumniaries as jean-claude van damme. i think it is misplaced nostalgia for these misspent years that drives my continued obsession with van damme–though there is also my general obsession with crap action movies (as documented on this blog). all this as preamble to the admission that i watched nowhere to run on ondemand last night.
Continue reading muscles from brussels

of gay actors, indian actors, and pride and prejudice

this is my first post, and i’m sure i’m already going all wrong about it. but since arnab forced me to use the password “italysucks” for my first login, i’m trying to mess up his site as much as i can.

i have nothing to say on gay actors, but i thought i’d bring the debate that’s being conducted under michael’s post on steven spielberg to a location where people can find it (why do i know that suddenly no one will have absolutely anything more to say on the subject?).

i would like, though, to say something more on the topic of identity specific actors. the first thing i want to say is screw current theories of performance. the second thing i want to say is that, as reynolds says, it matters very little whether actors can represent characters whose identity is racially/ethnically different from their own (i’m intentionally leaving out class and sexuality — and gender doesn’t seem to be a problem nowadays!), when foreign actors and actors of color have a hard time getting jobs in high-paying hollywood. Continue reading of gay actors, indian actors, and pride and prejudice

the battle between good and evil

i watched constantine last evening. anyone seen it? keanu reeves as an exorcist/occult ins officer trying to do his bit to maintain the balance between the forces of heaven and hell on earth. not a bad way to pass two hours. actually the first half of the movie is pretty good: you’re mostly kept in the dark about what’s happening, the film doesn’t seem to be going anywhere–just enjoying being atmospheric. it does get very silly towards the end but peter stormare as satan is a hoot, as is tilda swinton as mick hucknall, i mean gabriel. but i don’t really want to say much about the film. if like michael and me you watched all the “prophecy” movies you’ll probably like this one. if not, not. (why is gabriel so often an asshole in these movies?)

i am interested though in movies about this general theme of balance between good and evil/light and dark that don’t rely entirely on catholic mythology/iconography. i remember reading recently about a russian movie called “nightwatch” which seems like it might be one (it apparently outgrossed both “lord of the rings 3” and “spiderman 2” in russia–which may or may not be a big deal; i’m guessing many indian movies outgrossed both of these in india as well). these catholic movies are all so deeply religious they become a little boring. and the world of vampires and werewolves (underworld etc.) are mostly superhero movies masquerading as something else. okay, i’m rambling.